April 25, 2008

I Miss the Tramp

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I’ll bet you’re probably too young or perhaps too fresh on the computer scene to remember perhaps one of the best product icons of the industry.

He was the IBM Tramp, modeled after the popular Charlie Chaplin character in many early movies.

ibm tramp

The character appeared in advertising, print and television. (This is well before the Internet.) He never really had a name, but everyone recognized him as the Charlie Chaplin tramp character. Like that character he would do amazing things; some of the television commercials were elaborate and remarkably well choreographed. Here is an example.

Back in the tramp’s day, IBM ruled the world. The other PCs you could buy were generically called PC clones. A clone being an exact copy of an original, or with PC, a copy so close as to run all IBM PC software but not to incense the ire of IBM’s corporate lawyers.

There has never really been a PC advertising icon that has reached the tramp’s Q level (his ability to be recognized as an icon and properly identified with a product). Apple’s logo comes close, but it’s not animated. Microsoft’s advertisements are atrociously unmemorable. Nope, there was nothing like the tramp.

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